• 180 Proof
    898
    Another example of the Dunning-Kruger effect on stunning display ...

    Occam's Razor...the kind of drivel that people who cannot truly reason use.Frank Apisa
    :rofl:

    “It can scarcely be denied that the supreme goal of all theory is to make the irreducible basic elements as simple and as few as possible without having to surrender the adequate representation of a single datum of experience.” ~Albert Einstein (1933)

    "There never was a sounder logical maxim of scientific procedure than Ockham's razor: Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem. That is to say; before you try a complicated hypothesis, you should make quite sure that no simplification of it will explain the facts equally well." ~Charles Sanders Peirce (1903)
  • Frank Apisa
    1.5k
    180 Proof
    861
    Another example of the Dunning-Kruger effect on stunning display ...

    Occam's Razor...the kind of drivel that people who cannot truly reason use.
    — Frank Apisa
    :rofl:

    “It can scarcely be denied that the supreme goal of all theory is to make the irreducible basic elements as simple and as few as possible without having to surrender the adequate representation of a single datum of experience.” ~Albert Einstein (1933)

    "There never was a sounder logical maxim of scientific procedure than Ockham's razor: Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem. That is to say; before you try a complicated hypothesis, you should make quite sure that no simplification of it will explain the facts equally well." ~Charles Sanders Peirce (1903)
    180 Proof

    Occam's Razor...along with Pascal's Wager...are two of the most absurd attempts at meaningful, philosophical principle.

    Nothing Einstein and Peirce said makes that any less true.

    If one looks for simple explanations one will eventually find one that fits well enough to be considered adequate.

    Apply it to "the movement of the sun, moon, and stars across the heavens" or "cold in winter and hot in summer" and you will amazed at what you can come up with.

    Occam's Razor sucks like a black hole...and is probably misapplied more than any other philosophical "principle."

    Frank Apisa, 2020
  • 180 Proof
    898
    :yikes: :monkey: :lol:
  • Cabbage Farmer
    242
    Forgot to comment on "ordinary speakers". This is an argument from popularity. Just because it is popular to use the word belief in the way that the masses do does not make it correct. The vast majority of people are also not intellectually equipped to wrestle with the problem.SonOfAGun
    It's not about popularity. Language can't do its work as a medium of thought and communication without standards, norms, conventions, rules of use.

    I confess I'm influenced by common-sense and ordinary-language strands of our philosophical tradition. In my view this methodological tendency can help to minimize arbitrariness, confusion, obscurantism, and distraction by pseudoproblems in philosophical discourse, and is required for philosophy to achieve its purpose of promoting a common practice of reasonable discourse among the people.

    Even laying that personal bias aside:

    Divergence in philosophical discourse from ordinary use of terms can be careful, instructive, and motivated by philosophical insight. It can also be careless, misguided, and motivated by philosophical confusion.

    You're welcome to use the word "belief" in an extraordinary way. But to understand what you're doing when you speak that way, you need to understand the ordinary use you're diverging from. And of course you should be prepared to justify the divergence, or to provide an account of the divergence, in conversation.

    In the present case you're not merely using the word in an extraordinary way. You're persistently arguing that people who use it in the ordinary way are wrong to do so. This puts even more obligation on you to understand the use you're criticizing, as well as the use you're trying in your own idiom.

    So far your arguments against ordinary use of the word "belief" seem based on nothing but the fact that you choose not to use that word in describing our grasp of facts, or our "application of facts".

    But the fact that you choose not to use the word "belief" in your descriptions is no reason to suppose that everyone should follow your example, nor to suppose that everyone who persists in using the word "belief" in their descriptions of the same phenomena is wrong to do so. So I persist in claiming that your objections seem thus far unwarranted.


    Perhaps the "scientific realists" you've mentioned include "eliminative materialists" who aim to "eliminate" from scientific descriptions terms they characterize as items of "folk psychology"? As I recall, those eliminativists don't necessarily deny that people "have beliefs" in the ordinary sense, nor do they necessarily advise that we avoid the term "belief" in ordinary language and in ordinary-language philosophy. Rather, they claim that an ideal science would refrain from using folk-psychological terms in its account of phenomena ordinarily accounted for in folk-psychological terms. Or do they perhaps claim that, even short of an ideal science, the best scientific psychology should always aim to avoid the terms in question, and to use other terms to account for the relevant range of phenomena?

    It's been a long time since I've read such discourses. Please feel free to correct or extend my synopsis if it's relevant to our conversation, and don't be shy about citations.

    How closely associated are these eliminativists with reductive physicalism?

    Do some of them put their view more strongly than I have sketched it, perhaps by claiming that there are no phenomena corresponding to ordinary use of folk-psychological terms, like "belief"? Or perhaps they only say "there are no such things as beliefs"?

    To say "there are no such things as beliefs" is not to say or to entail that there are no phenomena corresponding to ordinary use of the term "belief", nor is it to say or to entail that ordinary use of the term amounts to nonsense. It would seem absurd to claim that "there are no phenomena" corresponding to ordinary use of the term "belief".


    As a skeptical naturalist, I have little use for philosophical ontology. I follow Rorty in repeating the slogan "There is no privileged ontology". The fact that one useful description of a set of phenomena arguably depends on a given "ontology" is no reason to suppose that no other ontology is useful or sound, even for providing another sort of description of the same phenomena. As free speakers, we may use various ontologies for various descriptive purposes.

    Empirical investigation produces descriptions of the relation of the Sun and the Earth. These descriptions may be used to redescribe, and in this sense to "explain", the phenomena ordinarily called "sunrise" and "sunset". The fact that sunrise and sunset may be rightly and informatively described by an empirical account that does not use the terms "sunrise" and "sunset" is no reason to go stomping around objecting to ordinary use of the terms "sunrise" and "sunset" in other discursive contexts.

    Changes in scientific accounts of the relation of Sun and Earth don't make nonsense out of ordinary statements like "It's nearly sunset" or "The sun is rising". Nor do they change the truth value we assign to such statements on objective grounds. Nor do they change the relevance to those objective grounds of the observations and circumstances of observation ordinarily associated with such statements, for instance when we eyeball the sky while standing six foot two on the surface of the Earth.

    I expect an analogous relation should maintain between ordinary use of psychological terms like "belief", and relevant scientific accounts of cognition that don't use such terms: Either fine-grained scientific accounts provide useful and informative redescriptions of the same phenomena we nevertheless correctly describe in such ordinary terms, or they are incomplete accounts of the phenomena in question. The informativeness of the scientific accounts is no reason to object to ordinary use of the ordinary terms. To the contrary, the applicability of the ordinary terms provides us with objective standards by which to assess the adequacy and completeness of the scientific accounts across a diverse range of cases.

    For instance, your scientific realists may aim to avoid quaint terms like "belief" in redescribing the phenomena involved in situations in which people judge judgments involving some conception of misperceptions, mirages, lies, or sincerely intended false assertions. If their account fails to capture the distinctions ordinarily captured by talk about what people "believe" and what people "don't believe" when they make such judgments, then their account is an incomplete account of the relevant phenomena. If it does capture the relevant distinctions, I presume it provides a fine-grained description of relevant phenomena that is consistent with ordinary use of the term "belief".


    Examples of the relevant generic distinctions an empirical account must capture:

    When I say "That pond is a mirage", I believe there is no pond there. When I say "We're saved, a pond!" I believe there is a pond there.

    When I seem to see out of the corner of my eye a cat on the floor near my foot, then look closely and see nothing but a plastic bag on the floor near my foot, I may judge that the initial perception was a misperception, in which case I don't believe (or no longer believe) there had been a cat there. Or, after the same sort of initial circumstances, I look closely and see a plastic bag, and wonder where the cat went -- or, heaven help us, wonder how the cat became a plastic bag -- in which case, I do (still) believe there had been a cat there.

    When I sincerely make or affirm an assertion, I believe the statement I have asserted is true. When I sincerely reject or deny an assertion, I believe the statement I have denied is false.

    When I say someone is lying, I believe that person intends to speak falsehood, to make false assertions, and does not believe what he says. When I say someone is speaking sincerely, I believe that person intends to speak the truth, to make true assertions, and does believe what he says.

    And so on.

    Show me the facts that are grasped and "applied" in each such case. If you can provide an adequate account in a given case, your account will be consistent with the ordinary use of the term "belief" -- and will thus provide no reason to object to that ordinary use.

    We might say that in such discursive contexts, the term "belief" figures among the explananda, not the explanans. But you've been objecting to use of the term "belief" as if it were part of an explanation competing with your favorite scientific explanation of the relevant phenomena.


    The range of examples I've selected may suggest that some set of epistemological concepts like the concept of belief are required for rational animals to make sense of the judgments of rational animals, by coordinating differences and conflicts of judgment in the same animal on a given occasion and over time, and among different animals on the same occasion and over time.
  • Cabbage Farmer
    242
    So far as I can tell, denial of the proposition "x exists" entails:

    i) a belief that the proposition "x exists" is false,

    ii) a belief that the proposition "x does not exist" is true, and

    iii) a belief that there is no such thing as "x".

    For ordinary purposes we don't need to fuss over the logical form of (iii). It's customary for people to say things like "x does not exist". That should only seem strange to logicians.
    Cabbage Farmer

    I have no problems with i or ii. I see i and ii as meta-beliefs, as they are referring strictly to a statement/proposition. Whereas iii is referring to the nonexistence of a real world object.Pinprick
    I'm not sure I understand how that distinction is supposed to apply.

    So far as I can tell, the sort of belief indicated in (iii) should be interpreted as a belief about the word "x" and about statements and propositions that use the word "x", and the like. I don't see much difference between (i)-(iii) in this regard.

    I suppose that's basically the point I've been making in our conversation.

    The belief that is ordinarily expressed with a phrase like "x doesn't exist" or "there is no such thing as x" is not appropriately interpreted as having a logical form like "There is an x and x does not exist" -- which would be absurd, as you suggest. Rather, such beliefs are more appropriately interpreted as having something like the logical forms I've indicated in (i)-(iii).

    Perhaps you're right to call these "meta-beliefs". I agree they are something like beliefs about beliefs, beliefs about judgments, beliefs about concepts or conceptions, beliefs about statements or propositions... beliefs about the way people's thoughts and speech relate to objective matters of fact.

    Against that backdrop I return to your initial statement:

    In a different thread, Atheism was being defined, by some, as a belief that there is no God. Doesn’t this essentially equate to a belief in “nothing?” If so, isn’t that self-defeating? A belief requires an object, that is, something as opposed to nothing. If there is no object your “belief” is referring to, then you don’t have an actual belief.Pinprick
    I hope I've made it clear enough by now, on what grounds I suggest that a belief that "there is no God" should be interpreted as a belief about something like a conception indicated by the word "God".

    That is the object you've requested. That is the sort of "thing" such beliefs are beliefs about.


    I wonder, is it all beliefs that require an object, on your account? Might it be closer to the truth to say that true beliefs must be analyzable as having some "object", whereas some false beliefs turn out to be figments of confusion?
  • Pinprick
    105
    I'm not sure I understand how that distinction is supposed to apply.

    So far as I can tell, the sort of belief indicated in (iii) should be interpreted as a belief about the word "x" and about statements and propositions that use the word "x", and the like. I don't see much difference between (i)-(iii) in this regard.
    Cabbage Farmer

    I took “x” to mean an actual object, not a statement or word, so it was my misunderstanding.

    I hope I've made it clear enough by now, on what grounds I suggest that a belief that "there is no God" should be interpreted as a belief about something like a conception indicated by the word "God".

    That is the object you've requested. That is the sort of "thing" such beliefs are beliefs about.
    Cabbage Farmer

    Well, God is certainly only a concept, but I think that “I believe there is no God” refers more towards the non/existence of the concept, rather than the concept itself. If I say “I believe the shirt is not red,” I’m making a statement about a property (the color) of the object (the shirt), not about the object itself.

    I wonder, is it all beliefs that require an object, on your account? Might it be closer to the truth to say that true beliefs must be analyzable as having some "object", whereas some false beliefs turn out to be figments of confusion?Cabbage Farmer

    I don’t know what a “false belief” is, so I don’t know. Is that just an untrue belief, like a lie that is believed?
  • Cabbage Farmer
    242
    Well, God is certainly only a concept, but I think that “I believe there is no God” refers more towards the non/existence of the concept, rather than the concept itself.Pinprick
    Would you agree it seems we've homed in on the region of our disagreement?

    I would not say "I believe there is no God" is a claim about the nonexistence of a concept. I might say the claim is "about":

    ---a concept: the concept of God indicated

    ---a belief of the speaker's: that there is no object in the world corresponding in the relevant way to the concept indicated

    ---the speaker: the one who makes the assertion in question and attributes the belief to himself

    ---the world: characterized both as containing the concept, the belief, and the speaker, and as not containing the object imputed by the relevant concept of God.


    If I say “I believe the shirt is not red,” I’m making a statement about a property (the color) of the object (the shirt), not about the object itself.Pinprick
    I would say "I believe the shirt is not red" is a statement "about a shirt" in much the way that the previous statement is a statement "about a concept of God".

    I might agree that this statement is also about something like "the color red", or "the property of being red" or "the predicate 'is red'"... and about the relation of some such thing to the thing called a shirt. Accordingly I might characterize the speaker's belief as a belief that there is a thing called "this shirt" and that the concept or predicate "being red" does not apply, or is not correctly applied, to that thing.

    In any case, we might provide a closer analogy to the initial statement: "I believe there are no shirts" or "I believe I have no shirt".

    I don’t know what a “false belief” is, so I don’t know. Is that just an untrue belief, like a lie that is believed?Pinprick
    I suppose false beliefs and false judgments are called "false" in the same sense that false assertions are called "false".

    That seems so regardless of whether one is said to be "justified" in having the belief in question. Truth value does not depend on justification, though assessment of truth value typically depends on justification.

    I presume these are examples of false assertion: "Three is greater than five", "The moon is made of brie", "There is no water in Spain".

    Typically the liar doesn't believe the assertion expressed in the lie is true, though others might believe the assertion is true when they catch wind of the lie.

    Of course the assertion expressed in a lie might turn out to be true, unbeknownst to the liar. Just as an honest assertion might turn out to be false, unbeknownst to the honest speaker.
  • Pinprick
    105
    Is it not appropriate to look towards the consensus of scholars/experts as a starting point to find the truth? What definition of knowledge should I have assumed if not the one the experts generally agree on?
    — Pinprick

    I'm considering this one closely. My first inclinations where to be snarky, but I don't want to do that. May take some time.
    SonOfAGun

    Hey, I’d still like to see what you think of this.
  • Pinprick
    105
    I wonder, is it all beliefs that require an object, on your account? Might it be closer to the truth to say that true beliefs must be analyzable as having some "object", whereas some false beliefs turn out to be figments of confusion?Cabbage Farmer

    I think all beliefs require an object, whether true or untrue. To say you “believe” makes no sense without specifying what it is you believe, and if your specification turns out to be “nothing” or an empty set, then you actually lack belief, in my view at least.

    Would you agree it seems we've homed in on the region of our disagreement?Cabbage Farmer

    Yes. I’m not exactly sure how to proceed since our difference seems to be fundamental to the topic at hand. But I would like to ask you what a belief about existence would be, since your claim that statements like “I believe God does/doesn’t exist” are actually about the concept of God, rather than existence?
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